Course Syllabus

Course Description

This course is intended for non-Communication majors. Its purpose is to give you a basic grounding in interpersonal communication and public speaking skills and principles. An extensive body of research has shown these skills contribute significantly to success in professional and personal life. You will not become expert communicators in one semester, but through a combination of exercises and class discussions, you will develop the tools to continually work toward communicating more effectively. You will also begin to recognize the importance of effective communication in family, church, and workplace relationships.


By the end of the semester, you should be able to the following:

  1. Demonstrate core communication skills and principles in a variety of roles and contexts.
  2. Demonstrate proficiency in developing speech content.
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in delivering public speeches.
  4. Identify principles for becoming a caring, competent and confident communicator.

Course Materials

You will not be required to purchase a textbook. We will utilize a collection of online readings developed by Communication department faculty.  You will need a device that records video and audio for this course. It is recommended that you use Google Chrome as your web browser for this course.


This course strongly encourages you to use Zoom for group meetings and to record videos. Your videos, if saved to the cloud, can be found in My Media. Your instructor may permit you to use a different method for recording videos and meeting with your group if you have issues with Zoom. Speak to your instructor for more information.  If you are a BYU-Idaho matriculated student, you should enter Zoom using the sign-on with SSO option. 

Course Architecture

This course runs in fourteen one-week lessons.

Each week:

  • Will open one week early in order to accommodate students who want to get started or need some flexibility in their schedules
  • Will have two main due dates
    • Preparation activities such as readings, a reading quiz, an initial posting in the discussion forum, and delivering speeches.
    • All other activities such as completing assignments, group discussions, Introspection Quizzes, subsequent postings in the discussion forum, and critiques of speeches.

Time Requirement

This course requires approximately 9–12 hours of work each week. This does include thirty minutes to an hour of your time each week (beginning in Week 3) meeting with a small study group. This meeting is expected to take place on the same day and at the same time each week. See the Group Activities section below for more information.  While BYU-Idaho online courses offer increased flexibility, you will still be required to complete assignments with specific weekly deadlines.


Most weeks have reading assignments and an online presentation. It is very important that you complete the readings and presentation, and take notes of important concepts and areas that are most meaningful to you. You will be quizzed, make insightful postings, participate in group discussions, and summarize the most meaningful points concerning the weekly readings (and presentation). You cannot complete these assignments without completing the readings and presentations.


There will be no comprehensive exams in this course. Most weeks will include a quiz on that week’s readings. You should complete the readings before taking the quiz. The reading quizzes can only be taken once and are open-book and open-notes. You will have quizzes every week except Weeks 4, 7, and 12-14. 

It is very helpful in the learning process to put the things you have learned into your own words. Weeks 2-13 you will also do an Introspection Quiz. The introspection quizzes may be done more than once and are open book and open note. Your responses should encapsulate the things you have learned during the week. Include those things that are most helpful and pertinent to you—things you want to remember and apply in your future..You should refrain from doing this quiz until the end of the week. This quiz is a place to reflect on your learning, set goals, and report on your experiences with your goals. While there are no right or wrong answers for the Weekly Introspection Quiz, you are expected to answer all of the questions on the quiz. Failing to answer all of the questions could result in a reduction in points for that quiz. This is for your benefit because you will compile a portfolio at the end of the semester that largely draws from your responses on these weekly introspections.

Discussion Boards

You will often be asked to engage with your fellow classmates on the class discussion boards. Among other things, you will be asked to express your feelings and insights about the reading by the designated day on the Calendar. You will also be asked to express yourself on at least three classmates’ posts by the designated day on the Calendar. You will be graded on your participation and the quality of your posts. Posts in discussion boards should be insightful and designed to move the conversation forward. Comments like “I agree” or “I really liked your comment” or "Thanks for posting!"  are generally not insightful and do not move the conversation to the next level -- unless you add more information to your post. You should have your initial post made by the middle of the week and your responses to other posts should be dispersed throughout the week. A best practice is to spend 5-10 minutes each day that you are "in class" looking at the discussion board. Find a post that interests you and post a comment: ask a question, or add to the topic by sharing your own experiences or an article, meme, or video that relates to the topic. By engaging in the conversation on a deeper level, you will get more out of the discussion board and deepen your understanding of the week's discussion.

Discussion boards are also used to post speeches and view and critique your classmates' speeches on weeks where there aren't any readings. Be sure that you post a working link to your speech! Be constructive with your feedback! "Great speech!" is not constructive. "You did a great job presenting your speech, but you went over time by 40 seconds." is better. Can you come up with something that could help your classmate reach the time limit? Identifying problems and possible solutions is a great way to provide constructive feedback. 

Group Activities

Many of the class activities are experiential and require participation with classmates. You will need to identify specific times when you can consistently meet online with your group every week. You will be assigned to a group of individuals that can meet at those same times. You must show up in order to learn and contribute to others’ learning. You cannot successfully complete group assignments without meeting with your group. 50% of your group meeting grade is based on attendance. You will not be able to make up an absence in these group activities unless your group is willing to meet again. Arranging such meetings is up to you and the group, not the instructor. You will meet with your group through a tool called Zoom. You will also use Zoom if you present your speeches to the Presentation Practice Center.

Additionally, group assignments are turned in as a group -- with the exception of Speech Weeks (see below). That means only one person needs to turn in the assignment for all group members. If a student does not attend the meeting and does not contribute in any way, he or she will not receive credit for the assignment. This does not mean that only one person's perspective should be included in the group assignment. ALL students should have their voices expressed in that assignment. You are strongly encouraged to collaborate on a google or word document and that document should be submitted for grading. Questions should be answered using 'plural' language when appropriate: We felt that... We discussed... There are instances where this is not the case, such as, "While Mandy and Frederico felt that... Jamal pointed out that..."


These Canvas guides may help you:

Submitting a Group Assignment

Group Collaborations

Group Submission Exceptions

On speech weeks, group work submitted for the group is not accepted.  Each person in the group must submit his or her own assignment. Individual submissions must be made on Weeks 4, 7, 12, and 13.

Public Speeches

This class is based on the assumption that human beings learn incrementally; that is, they learn in small bites, not big gulps, especially when they are learning a complex skill such as public speaking. For that reason, we will move from simple to complex, learning public speaking one small lesson at a time. This class is also based on a second assumption that it is not possible to become an effective public speaker without actual practice in the process. Speeches will be delivered before a group of your peers and before the Presentation Practice Center (optional) using online technology. You will have opportunities to give three speeches in this class that are designed to help you improve and sharpen your skill in organizing, preparing, and delivering a speech to an audience. You will make a final recorded version of the speech available online for peers to critique and your instructor to grade.

  1. Story Speech: In this speech, you will talk about an experience that you have had or a story that you know very well. You will end this speech by explaining to the audience in no more than two sentences what the point of the story (or what the life lesson that you learned) is. Stories have an integral place in public speaking and in helping your audience to remember what your speech is about. The purpose of this speech is to allow you to gain confidence, practice using gestures, and showing emotion with your voice. Just as a good story has a beginning, middle, and an end, so does a good speech. You will accomplish this in three minutes. You are not required to use a visual aid. 
  2. Informative speech: In this speech, you will need to thoroughly research a topic and present it to the class in a professional manner. You will inform them. Professional dress will be required. You are required to use a visual aid. You are also required to use gestures and show emotion and avoid speaking habits that detract from the presentation. You will accomplish this speech in five minutes.
  3. Persuasive speech: Perhaps the greatest challenge in public speaking is to change the feelings or beliefs of audience members and motivate them to action. This speech attempts to persuade your audience to believe or do something they do not currently. Audience analysis, establishing credibility, excellent structure, and supporting evidence will be needed. A minimum of three outside sources must be cited. You have seven minutes.

Requirements for all speeches:

  1. Practice, practice, practice!: This is a class where it is okay to make mistakes. Perfection is not required. “Winging it,” however, is not acceptable. You should practice your speech many times out loud before presenting it to the class.
  2. Observe time limits: A crucial skill in any type of public speaking is keeping within your allotted time. Going significantly over time or under time displays a lack of preparation and disrespects your audience. Unless otherwise noted, deviation from allotted time by more than 30 seconds will usually result in a significant reduction in your grade.
  3. Get your speech critiqued. Your speeches will be presented to your small group, and you will receive their feedback. Also, you will record the speech and make it available online for the rest of your class and finally, record it for your instructor for grading. Optionally, you can also deliver and have your speech critiqued by the university’s Presentation Practice Center (PPC) for extra credit. The Practice Center is a wonderful resource provided by the university. Through the PPC, you have an opportunity to present your speech in a non-threatening environment and get immediate feedback.
  4. Professional dress and standing while presenting is required for each speech. If you are unable to stand for medical reasons, please discuss this with your instructor.


Letter Grade Percentage Range Points
A 100% –94% 777-730
A- 93% – 90% 729-699
B+ 89% – 87% 698-676
B 86% – 83% 675-653
B- 82% – 80% 652-622
C+ 79% – 77% 621-598
C 76% – 73% 597-575
C- 72% – 70% 574-544
D+ 69% – 67% 543-521
D 66% – 63% 520-497
D- 62% – 60% 496-466
F 59% – 00% 465-0

University Policies

Students with Disabilities

Brigham Young University-Idaho is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have a disability and require accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Office at (208) 496-9210 or visit their website and follow the Steps for Receiving Accommodations. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with students and instructors by the Disability Services Office.

This course does require synchronous meetings. If you are currently registered with the Disability Services Office and need an interpreter or transcriber for these meetings, please contact the deaf and hard of hearing coordinator at (208) 496-9219.

Other University Policies

Student Honor and Other Policies

Please read through the document called University Policies. It gives important information about the following topics:

  • Student Honor
    • Academic Honesty
    • Student Conduct
      • Sexual Harassment
  • Student with Disabilities
  • Complaints and Grievances
  • Copyright Notice

Reminder on Plagiarism

When we use other people's ideas, we must provide credit (or recognition) to those individuals from whom we took the information. If we do not give credit to other people’s ideas, we are plagiarizing. Plagiarism is taking ideas from another person and making them our own—intentional or unintentional. One writing strategy we can use to avoid plagiarism is paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is taking ideas or words from someone else and expressing them in our own words. However, if the information is not general knowledge or the information is new to us, we must still give credit to that individual or individuals from whom we obtained the information.  Paraphrasing is the act of putting someone's words into your own words. Even though you may have paraphrased someone's words, you will need to cite (give attribution) your source because the ideas were not originally yours.  Often when giving a speech, a speaker will use quotes or statistics from another source.  This is actually a good thing to do because using these outside sources actually brings more credibility to the speaker and provides more weight for the speaker's position on the topic.  

Watch Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing to learn more.  

Go to the Student Resources module to review further resources and information.

Help & Online Support Resources

If any technical difficulties arise, please visit the I-learn help tab located on the left-hand side of your screen to contact the appropriate support center before contacting the instructor.

If you need any academic help, you can reach out to your instructor or to the Academic Support Center.  Here you can receive help as an English Language Learner and for writing.  There is online course tutoring available as well.

During this course, you will have the opportunity to practice your presentation with a tutor from the Presentation Practice Center as mentioned in the Public Speeches section above. 

Course Summary:

Date Details Due